Monday, March 29, 2010

#224 Bob Chance

#224 Bob Chance
It's not every day that you find a Rookie Cup player who was traded in the same offseason that he received the honor. But here's Bob Chance with that telltale missing hat...

Fun facts about Bob Chance:

-Born in Statesboro, GA, Bob signed with the Giants in 1961.

-After his first pro season, he was drafted out of San Francisco's organization by the Indians.

-Chance hit 30 home runs in his first two seasons in the minors and then broke out in 1963, winning the triple crown at AA Charleston (.343, 26 HR, 114 RBI). He was named Eastern League MVP.

-Was promoted to Cleveland at the end of that season, turning some heads in a sixteen-game trial (.288, six extra-base hits in 16 games).

-His 140 games played in 1964 would be a career high, as were his totals in home runs (14) and RBI (75). The rookie batted .279 for the Tribe.

-Bob hit .340 with four homers and a pair of doubles against Washington during his career year, so naturally the Senators traded for him prior to the next season. Manager Gil Hodges proclaimed that his new first baseman had potential to be a league-leading hitter, but Chance struggled with his weight and hit a disappointing .256 with four homers in 72 games in 1965.

-Washington quickly lost faith in him, as he spent much of 1966 and 1967 and all of 1968 at AAA. When he did play in the majors, he was awful, hitting .192 and slugging .364 in that span.

-The Angels took a brief flier on him in 1969, but he collected only one hit in seven at-bats and that was it for him as a major leaguer. In parts of six seasons, he hit .261 with 24 homers and 112 RBI.

-He also played for the Yakult Atoms in Japan.

-His son Tony played 19 seasons of pro ball, but never made it to the big leagues. He was a .269 hitter with 202 career home runs.
#224 Bob Chance (back)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

#223 Dan Osinski

#223 Dan Osinski
Dan Osinski looks kind of pale, gaunt, and weary in this photo. It reminds me of my own physical appearance Monday night, after two straight ten-hour days of home improvements followed by a 6:45 AM-3:15 PM shift at work. Wake me in about a month.

Fun facts about Dan Osinski:

-A native of Chicago, IL, Dan signed with the Indians as a teenager in 1952.

-His path to the majors took several detours, as he walked tons of batters as was out of organized ball for two years following his release from the Cleveland system. His hometown White Sox gave him a second chance, but he didn't go beyond Class A ball in three seasons in their organization.

-After being picked up by the Athletics in the previous offseason, Osinski finally made his big league debut in 1962. The 28-year-old was hit hard in four appearances for K.C., but pitched well back in the minors and showed improvement following a midseason trade to the Angels. He won six and saved four out of the L.A. bullpen with a 2.82 ERA.

-In a swingman role in 1963, Dan set career highs in wins (eight), complete games (four), innings pitched (159.1), and strikeouts (100) while posting a 3.28 ERA.

-On June 4, 1963, he tossed the first of two career shutouts, three-hitting the White Sox and striking out eight.

-After another good effort the following year (3.48 ERA), he was traded to the Braves and ranked eighth in the N.L. with 61 appearances in 1965 and pitched to a 2.82 ERA.

-Osinski also spent two years in Boston. With the 1967 "Impossible Dream" club, he set personal bests with a 2.54 ERA and 1.18 WHIP. He appeared in relief in two World Series games but did not do anything of note.

-After spending all of 1968 at AAA Hawaii, Dan lasted another two years in the majors, throwing effectively for the White Sox in 1969 before stumbling in a brief look at Houston the next year. On the plus side, his final pitch as a major league produced a Willie Mays groundout.

-In parts of eight seasons he was 29-28 with 18 saves and a 3.34 ERA.

-After baseball, Dan worked in banking.
#223 Dan Osinski (back)

Monday, March 22, 2010

#222 Bob Tillman

#222 Bob Tillman
These entries may or may not start getting sporadic again, as I'm knee-deep in home improvement projects and the moving process. Bear with me for a month or so, if you'd be so kind. Today, we marvel as Bob Tillman attempts to catch a pop-up with the palm of his mitt facing his body! He must have been doing something right, though; he only committed 55 errors in nine seasons.

Fun facts about Bob Tillman:

-Native Nashvillian (Nashvillite? Nashvillanian?) Bob attended Georgia Tech and Middle Tennessee State as an undergrad, then signed with the Red Sox in 1958.

-His brother James was a minor league pitcher in 1962 and 1964.

-He hit only .255 in four minor league seasons, but showed good power (81 total home runs), and headed to Boston to begin the 1962 campaign.

-Clouted 14 home runs in just 81 games as a rookie, including a round-tripper in his very first official at-bat.

-Had a career year in 1964, his third major league season. He played in a career-high 131 games and easily reached personal bests with 18 doubles, 17 homers, 61 RBI, and a .278 average.

-Caught two no-hitters during his time in Boston. The pitchers were Earl Wilson (June 26, 1962) and Dave Morehead (September 16, 1965).

-Changed teams twice in four months in 1967, first from Boston to the Yankees, and then from New York to the Braves.

-Hit three home runs in one game on July 30, 1969, all against Philadelphia's Grant Jackson.

-Played three seasons with the Braves before calling it quits. He hit .232 in nine seasons with 79 home runs and 282 RBI.

-Bob passed away in 2000 at age 63, and was laid to rest near his home in Gallatin, TN.
#222 Bob Tillman (back)

Monday, March 15, 2010

#219 Bob Meyer

#219 Bob Meyer
Now we're back to the heaping package of 1965 Topps cards that I received from Jamie Whyte. I'd started reviewing the contents a few months ago, but was rudely interrupted by my own absent-mindedness, when I suddenly remembered that I'd forgotten to account for several cards that I'd received earlier on. Clear as mud? Sure. As to this card in particular, I'm starting to think that I should have kept a running tally of flat-top haircuts in this set.

Fun facts about Bob Meyer:

-Bob played college ball in his hometown (at the University of Toledo) before signing with the Yankees in 1960.

-Despite underwhelming minor league numbers, he made the big league squad in 1964 at age 24.

-During his rookie season, Meyer changed teams twice; the Angels bought his contract from the Yankees in June and sold him to the Athletics the following month.

-He had two consecutive memorable starts against the Orioles. On September 7, 1964, Bob earned the only complete game victory of his career by limiting Baltimore to one run on six hits and a walk while striking out five. Five days later he allowed a single hit to the Birds in eight innings...but opposing starter Frank Bertaina matched him. None of Meyer's six walks came back to hurt him, but the lone hit he yielded was a double to John Orsino. A bunt and a fly ball plated Orsino with the game's only run, as Meyer was a hard luck loser despite going the distance (the host O's did not need their at-bats in the ninth).

-In all, Bob was 2-8 with a 4.37 ERA in his first taste of the majors.

-The A's kept the southpaw for four and a half more seasons, but left him in the minors for the duration. A trade to the first-year Seattle Pilots in 1969 finally gave him an opportunity to return to the American League. He put up a 3.31 ERA in six games in his new digs, but lost all three of his decisions.

-His best start as a Pilot came on September 1, 1969, as he allowed a single unearned run to the Yankees on four hits but departed after nine innings with the score tied at 1-1. Seattle eventually won the game with a four-run thirteenth inning.

-Bob followed the Seattle franchise to Milwaukee the following year, but was hit hard in ten relief appearances. The Brewers released him in March 1971 to close the book on his career.

-In parts of three seasons, he was 2-12 with a 4.38 ERA. He struggled with his control throughout his career, walking 5.6 batters per nine innings in his big league experience and doing even worse in the minors (5.8 BB/9).

-Bob shares his August 4 birthday with Hall of Fame first baseman Jake Beckley and seven-time Cy Young Award winner and terrible human being Roger Clemens.
#219 Bob Meyer (back)

Sunday, March 14, 2010

#580 Jimmie Hall

This card finally brings us to the end of another big ol' mess of cards from Max. Thanks again, pal!

Fun facts about Jimmie Hall:

-Jimmie was born in Mount Holly, NC, and signed with the Senators in 1956.

-Low batting averages and multiple position switches kept him in the minors for his first seven pro seasons.

-Hall made the Twins' roster at the beginning of 1963. The rookie soon earned a starting spot in the outfield, and hit .260 while setting an American League record for first-year players with 33 homers. He also drove in 80 runs, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting.

-Though he dropped to 25 homers and 75 RBI in his sophomore season, Jimmie improved his average to .282 and made the All-Star team.

-A second straight All-Star appearance followed in 1965, as he reached career highs in doubles (25), RBI (86), and batting average (.285).

-Jimmie played only twice in the 1965 World Series due to his poor track record against lefties. The Dodgers started a lefthander in five of the seven games and came out on top.

-Joined the Angels in 1967 via a five-player trade, and hit 16 home runs in 401 at-bats. For the rest of his career, he would not top 250 at-bats in any season.

-With his move to the bench, Jimmie's power soon evaporated. He hopped from California to the Indians to the Yankees to the Cubs to the Braves in the span of three years.

-Though he played briefly at AAA Hawaii in 1971, Jimmie's major league career ended at age 32 in 1970. In eight seasons he hit .254 with 121 home runs and 391 RBI.

-Today Jimmie still makes his home in Mount Holly.

Saturday, March 13, 2010


1994 Upper Deck Collector's Choice Series 1 (7): 33 80 157 168 190 230 281

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

#572 Baltimore Orioles Team

#572 Baltimore Orioles Team
Here they are, on full display: the oh-so-rare Orioles jerseys with block lettering! Baltimore wore these home uniforms for just one year -1964- before returning to their customary script lettering. Personally, I prefer the script to the somewhat austere-looking block. Your mileage may vary.

For much of 1964, the young and hungry Orioles had their way with the American League. After finishing within eight games of first place only once in their previous ten seasons in Charm City, Hank Bauer's boys spent 111 days in first place. The team ran out of steam in the end, being edged out by the Yankees by a 2.5 game margin. To add insult to injury, the White Sox slipped past them into second place, finishing a mere half a game ahead of the O's. Still, a new franchise record of 97 wins is nothing to sneeze at; neither is a healthy runs scored vs. runs allowed ratio of 679-567. Baltimore ranked fourth in the ten-team American League in attendance with 1,116,215 rooters passing through Memorial Stadium that year.

The O's didn't do a whole lot with the bats, ranking in the middle of the pack in most offensive categories, including sixth in runs. However, they were second in doubles with 229 and in steals with 78 (though 57 of those swipes came from All-Star shortstop Luis Aparicio). There were some individual standout performances, mostly notably AL MVP and All-Star starting third baseman Brooks Robinson. "Hoover" led the O's with a .317 average, 35 doubles, and an AL-best 118 RBI, and stroked 28 homers to boot. He and Aparicio also took home Gold Gloves. 22-year-old outfielder Boog Powell made his presence known by leading the league in slugging at .606. He also hit a team-best 39 homers, and batted .290 with a .399 on-base percentage and 99 RBI. Right fielder Sam Bowens set a new team record for rookies with his 22 round-trippers, and first baseman Norm Siebern joined Aparicio and Brooks on the All-Star team (.379 OBP, 24 doubles).

The pitching staff was an intriguing mix of savvy veterans and emerging youngsters, and they tossed up a cumulative 3.16 ERA that ranked fourth in the loop. Future Hall of Famer Robin Roberts was (at age 37) a full decade or more older than every other starting pitcher in the regular rotation. His 13-7 record and 2.91 ERA were strong, but qualified him for the third slot among O's starters. Righthander Milt Pappas had one of the best years of his career, going 16-9 with a 2.91 ERA and seven shutouts. But the real story was 19-year-old rookie Wally Bunker, who topped the team with a 19-5 record and a 2.69 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He also completed a dozen games. Meanwhile, a trio of greybeards (Stu Miller, Harvey Haddix, and Dick Hall) shortened games in relief, led by Miller’s 23 saves and Hall’s ridiculous stat line of 9-1, 1.85 ERA, 0.84 WHIP. Overall the three were 21-13 with 40 saves, a 2.43 ERA, and a 1.01 WHIP. Not bad for a bunch with an average age of 35 and a half! NOTE: Hall does not have a card in the 1964-1966 Topps sets. I've heard that he had an exclusive contract with Fleer during that time, but I could be mistaken.

The future for the Orioles turned out to be as bright as their 1964 near-miss suggested. After another painful third-place finish in 1965, Baltimore picked up slugger Frank Robinson in a trade that proved to be a catalyst. The Birds won their first World Series in Robby’s debut season with his new team, and would go on to make four appearances in the Fall Classic during his six years with them (winning again in 1970 and losing in 1969 and 1971). They remained one of the top teams in the American League for another decade after Robinson’s departure, and in 2010 they will return to their rightful place among baseball’s elite.

(Just making sure that you’re still paying attention.)
#572 Baltimore Orioles Team (back)

Tuesday, March 09, 2010

#561 Dodgers Rookie Stars: Daboll, Mike Kekich, Jim Lefebvre, and Hector Valle

#561 Dodgers Rookie Stars: Dennis Daboll, Mike Kekich, Jim Lefebvre, and Hector Valle
Wow, check out the Brady Bunch action on this four-player rookie card! If I were Lefebvre or Valle, I think I'd be a little miffed about getting smaller photos than the other two. Of course, it's an honor just to be featured on a baseball card, blah blah blah.

Fun facts about Dennis Daboll:

-Dennis, who called Las Vegas, NV home in his youth, signed with the Dodgers out of high school in 1964.

-He went 5-8 with a 4.17 ERA between Rookie-level Pocatello and A-level Santa Barbara in his first pro season, but seemed likely to make the big league club in 1965, according to this Sports Illustrated article.

-In May 1965, the Reds claimed Daboll off of waivers from Los Angeles and assigned him to class A Tampa, where he spent the next two seasons. He pitched well, but not outstandingly so (13-16, 3.66 ERA).

-Dennis moved on to the Cardinals farm system in 1967, and stayed there through 1971. He never climbed higher than AA, and peaked with an 11-6 record and 1.66 ERA in three stops in 1970. He was only 24 when he stopped pitching in organized baseball.

Fun facts about Mike Kekich:

-A native of San Diego, CA, Mike also signed with the Dodgers in 1964.

-He debuted with Los Angeles in 1965 at age 20, but pitched poorly in five games and did not resurface in the majors until 1968.

-His only career shutout was a one-hit, 11-strikeout masterpiece on August 4, 1968, as the Dodgers bested the Mets 2-0. Only a Ron Swoboda single with two outs in the seventh inning kept him from a piece of history.

-After a hard-luck rookie season (2-10 with a 3.91 ERA), Mike was dealt to the Yankees.

-New York used him in both relieving and starting roles during his four-plus seasons with the club. His earned run average was a pedestrian 4.31 during this time, but he did win 31 games in the Bronx.

-In 1973, Kekich famously "swapped families" (wives, kids, and dogs) with Yankees teammate Fritz Peterson! Peterson went on to marry Kekich's former wife Susanne and they had four children of their own, but his ex-wife Marilyn got cold feet and did not stay with Kekich.

-Months after the family trade, Mike was traded as well, this time to Cleveland. A rocky finish to the 1973 season led to his release the following Spring. He split 1974 between Japan and the Rangers' AAA Spokane team. His best effort as a major leaguer came in a partial season in 1975 with Texas (3.73 ERA in 23 relief appearances).

-He continued to bounce around, going to Mexico for 1976 only to return to the bigs with the new Seattle club in 1977. He went 5-4 with a 5.60 ERA for the Mariners in what proved to be his final big league season (he spent 1978 back in the minors). In parts of nine years in the majors he was 39-51 with a 4.59 ERA.

-Mike allowed only four hits in 20 career at-bats (.200 AVG) to Hall of Famer Rod Carew.

-Kekich finally did remarry and currently lives in New Mexico, where he works as an insurance adjuster.

Fun facts about Jim Lefebvre:

-Hailing from Inglewood, CA, Jim signed with the Dodgers in 1962.

-Commanded attention in his first pro season, hitting .327 with a .432 on-base percentage, .619 slugging percentage, 33 doubles, 39 home runs, and 130 RBI at class C Reno.

-Cracked the Dodgers starting lineup at the beginning of the 1965 season, combining with Wes Parker, Maury Wills, and Jim Gilliam to form an all-switch-hitting infield. Jim hit .250 but walked 71 times, cracked 21 doubles, and led the club with 12 home runs. His 69 RBI were one off the team lead, and his performance was strong enough to beat out fellow second baseman Joe Morgan for N.L. Rookie of the Year honors.

-Hit .400 (4-for-10) in three games in the 1965 World Series, an L.A. win over the Twins. The following year he was just 2-for-12 as the Dodgers were swept by the Orioles, but his solo home run in Game One provided one of just two runs that his team scored in the entire Fall Classic.

-Was an All-Star in 1966, as he paced his club in home runs and RBI with 24 and 74 and hit a career-high .274.

-His power dissipated after that, but he remained a role player for the Dodgers until leaving for Japan after the 1972 season. In eight seasons in the majors he hit .251 with 74 homers and 404 RBI.

-Took advantage of his time in Los Angeles, making guest appearances on popular shows such as Gilligan's Island and Batman.

-Played in Japan with the Lotte Orions from 1973-1976. In 1974 he became the first man to play for both a World Series champ and a Japan Series champ. Despite hitting 29 homers during his first year with the club, he battled both injuries and his manager in later years.

-Has been on several major league coaching staffs, including the Dodgers, Giants, Athletics, Brewers, and Reds.

-Managed the Mariners from 1989-1991. Despite bringing Seattle its first winning team in 1991 (83-79), he was not retained. Spent the next two seasons managing the Cubs, and was again let go despite modest gains on the field. Also served as Milwaukee's interim manager in 1999. Spent six years (2003-2008) managing the Chinese team in international competition. Though China won only a single game in the 2008 Olympics, it was a stunning upset of Taiwan.

Fun facts about Hector Valle:

-Hector was born in Vega Baja, Puerto Rico, and signed with the Dodgers in 1960.

-His best season in the minors was 1961, when he hit .325 with a .401 on-base percentage and 71 RBI at class C Reno.

-In 1965, his sixth pro season, the Dodgers called the 25-year-old catcher up to the big leagues at midseason. His entire MLB career consisted of nine games: six in June and one each in July, September, and October.

-He was the starting catcher in L.A.’s final game of the season, a 3-0 win over the Braves. Six Dodger pitchers combined on a three-hitter, and Valle had two singles and an RBI.

-Overall, Hector was 4-for-13 (.308) with one run scored and two RBI. Behind the plate, he handled 21 chances without an error.

-He played minor league ball through the 1971 season, also passing through the Mets, Tigers, and Royals organizations. He also played several years in the Puerto Rican Winter Baseball League.
#561 Dodgers Rookie Stars: Dennis Daboll, Mike Kekich, Jim Lefebvre, and Hector Valle (back)

Monday, March 08, 2010

#551 New York Mets Team

#551 New York Mets Team

Ah, the New York Mess. Sure, it’s an old and lame joke, but those first few Mets teams were pretty bedraggled, and they certainly look a mess with the orange and lime green color scheme that Topps chose for their team card.

In just their third year of existence, the Mets occupied a familiar slot: dead last in the National League. Their 53-109 record was a two-game improvement over the previous year, at least. Still, Casey Stengel’s boys finished 40 games off the pace of the pennant-winning Cardinals and a full 13 games behind ninth-place Houston. They allowed over 200 runs more than they scored (776 RA, 569 RS) and were at the bottom of the league in both counts. However, the grand opening of Shea Stadium in Flushing, NY allowed the large-market Mets to place second in the National League in total attendance with 1,732,597 visitors. You certainly couldn’t say that New York wasn’t big enough for two baseball teams!

Met hitters as a whole placed in the bottom three among NL teams in every significant category except doubles (they were fourth-worst with 195). They hit .246 with a .296 on-base percentage and slugged .348. The leading batsmen in the New York attack were 23-year-old second baseman Ron Hunt (.303, 6 HR, 42 RBI) and right fielder Joe Christopher (.300 with a team-leading 50 extra-base hits and 76 RBI). Third baseman Charley Smith was the only player to hit 20 home runs but mustered only a .275 on-base percentage.

The pitchers were even worse than the hitters, bringing up the rear in statistical categories such as ERA (4.25), saves (15), hits allowed (1511), and runs and earned runs allowed (776 and 680). They were also last in wins, obviously. The four primary starters each lost between 16 and 20 games, though none was exceptionally awful. Tracy Stallard in particular gave the club 225.2 innings with a 3.79 ERA, but you would’ve had to cut that number in half to come out ahead on that team. No Mets reliever topped five saves, but Bill Wakefield appeared in 62 games with a solid 3.61 ERA.

You probably know the rest of the story. The Mets lost 100 games five times in their first seven seasons, and set a team record with a 73-89 mark in their seventh year of existence. Then they stunned the baseball world by winning 100 the following year (1969), catching the Cubs down the stretch to capture the NL East crown. They rolled over the Braves in the NLCS and upset the 109-win Orioles in the World Series to earn the nickname “the Amazin’ Mets”. Of course, the 1973 New York squad took the dominant Oakland Athletics to seven games before losing the World Series, despite winning only 83 games in the regular season; if that’s not amazing, I don’t know what is!

#551 New York Mets Team (back)

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

#540 Lou Brock

#540 Lou Brock
We're nearing the end of the impressive run of cards that Max sent my way. The last few in this bundle are lesser lights, so please enjoy one more Hall of Famer for the road!

Fun facts about Lou Brock:

-Hailing from El Dorardo, AR, Lou played college ball at Southern University and A & M College before signing with the Cubs in 1960.

-Chicago promoted Brock at the end of his first pro season and he never went back to the minors. However, his first few seasons were marked by uneven production, and the club traded him to the Cardinals in June 1964. Though six players in all changed teams, history has abbreviated the fateful deal as Brock-for-Ernie Broglio.

-Lou was revitalized in St. Louis, as were his new teammates. The Redbirds were 28-31 when they acquired the speedy outfielder but went 65-38 afterward to leapfrog seven other teams and capture the National League pennant and outlast the Yankees in the World Series. Brock hit .348 and slugged .527 in his new digs, swiping 33 bases and scoring 81 runs in 103 games to crack the top ten in MVP voting. He also hit .300 and drove in five runs in the Series.

-Led the league in stolen bases eight times between 1966 and 1974, including a major league record 118 swipes in 1974. Rickey Henderson ultimately topped that mark with 130 thefts in 1982.

-Played some of his best ball in 1967, when he became the first player to hit 20 home runs and steal 50 bases in the same season. He also hit .299 and was named to the first of six All-Star teams. He capped it all with a World Series MVP award, as he hit .414 with eight runs and seven steals in the Cards' seven-game triumph over Boston.

-Was even better in the 1968 Series, hitting .464 and slugging .857 with another seven thefts, but the Tigers outpitched St. Louis in another seven-gamer.

-In 1969, the Cardinals were the opposition in the Montreal Expos' first home opener. As the visiting leadoff hitter, Brock was the first major league player to bat in Canada in the regular season.

-Lou went out on top, batting .304 and collecting his 3,000th hit in 1979, his final season in the big leagues. The 40-year-old won the NL Comeback Player of the Year award and retired as the all-time leading base stealer with 938. He was surpassed by Rickey (again) in 1991. In parts of 19 seasons, Brock hit .293 with 486 doubles, 149 home runs, and 900 RBI.

-The Cards retired his #20 in 1979. In 1985, he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year on the ballot. Each year, the National League honors its leading base stealer with the Lou Brock Award.

-After hanging up his spikes, Lou became a successful businessman, most notably running a florist shop. His son, Lou Junior, was a two-sport star at the University of Southern California and briefly played for the Chargers, Lions, and Seahawks in the NFL (1987-1988). Brock and his wife are also both ordained ministers at Abundant Life Fellowship Church in St. Louis.
#540 Lou Brock (back)

Monday, March 01, 2010

#519 Bob Uecker

At long last, we come to Ueck! I am not dealing in hyperbole when I tell you that this is my absolute favorite card in the set, the one that I have been waiting with bated breath to show off and discuss. Before I was truly wedded to the idea of acquiring this set via trades and donations, I spent some time fruitlessly bidding for this masterpiece on eBay. It’s highly sought after not only because of the cult status of its subject, but because it comes from the rarer “high-numbered” series. It’s also considered an error card, as it shows the righthanded catcher batting lefty. However, no correction was issued.

I have just a few more notes about this card. The copy writer responsible for the card back did yeoman’s work, not only mentioning Uecker’s reputation as a joker but including a seemingly sarcastic reference to his receipt of a full World Series winner’s share despite his lack of action in the postseason. That sentence was so loaded, it could have been written by Bob himself. Lastly, the most astute among you have probably noticed that the banner image at the top of this blog features a set of mischievous eyes peering out at you…and those eyes belong to none other than Bob Uecker.

Fun facts about Bob Uecker (with corresponding quotes):

-The Braves signed Milwaukee native Uecker in 1956 at age 21; he would not debut with the club until his seventh pro season. “I signed with the Milwaukee Braves for $3,000. That bothered my dad at the time because he didn’t have that kind of dough. But he eventually scraped it up.”

-He finally made it to the bigs in 1962, hitting .250 in 64 at-bats. “You know, I was once named Minor League Player of the Year…unfortunately, I had been in the majors for two years at the time.”

-In a six-year career with the Braves, Cardinals, and Phillies, Bob never started (topping out at 207 at-bats with Philly in 1966). He committed 27 errors in 1,436 career chances for a solid .981 fielding percentage. “How do you catch a knuckleball? Wait until it stops rolling, then go to the backstop and pick it up.”

-Overall, he was an even .200 hitter with 14 home runs and 74 RBI. “Anybody with ability can play in the big leagues. To last as long as I did with the skills I had, with the numbers I produced, was a triumph of the human spirit.”

-He did make his few longballs count, victimizing Hall of Famers Sandy Koufax, Gaylord Perry, and Fergie Jenkins. “I hit a grand slam off Ron Herbel and when his manager Herman Franks came out to get him, he was bringing Herbel’s suitcase.”

-After his playing career ended, he spent some time working in public relations for the Braves before getting into broadcasting with the Brewers in 1970. He has been the voice of the Brew Crew for many of the ensuing years. He’s also called regular season and playoff games on ABC and NBC. “Well, a couple of grand slammers and the Brewers (down 8-0 in the eighth inning) are right back in this one.”

-Uecker became a household name through appearances on Johnny Carson’s Tonight Show (74 in all!), Miller Lite beer commercials, and a late-blooming acting career that included the TV sitcom Mr. Belvedere and the “Major League” film series. “Juuuust a bit outside.” (Said as a fictitious Indians pitcher heaves the ball wildly)

-My personal favorite Bob Uecker moment came during Wrestlemania IV, a 1988 WWF pay-per-view that featured Ueck as a guest interviewer and announcer. He had the unenviable task of eliciting a few words backstage with the legendary Andre the Giant, and became perturbed when the Frenchman rested a massive hand on his much smaller frame: “Hey buddy, you mind getting your foot off of my shoulder?” Andre responded by choking the daylights out of him, stopping to grin at the camera, and lumbering away.

-In 2005, the Brewers inducted him into their Ring of Honor to commemorate his 50th year in pro baseball. In 2009, the club also added him to the Braves Wall of Honor at Miller Park. “Baseball hasn’t forgotten me. I go to a lot of Old Timers games and I haven’t lost a thing. I sit in the bullpen and let people throw things at me. Just like old times.”

-Believe it or not, Uecker was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2003…as a recipient of the Ford C. Frick Award for broadcasters. “I should have gone in as a player.”